In response to the lack of a mass medium that tackles disaster response and rehabilitation in a highly vulnerable region, IAWRT Philippine Chapter is establishing a community radio station to be based at the so-called ground zero of the strongest typhoon in recorded history.
To kick it off, in early October, women community radio broadcasters in the Philippines organized and conducted a four-day workshop for the establishment of a disaster response and rehabilitation community radio station in Tacloban City.
By IAWRT Philippine Chapter
With gusts in excess of 300 kph, Typhoon Haiyan struck the entire central region of the Philippines (the Visayas) on November 8, 2013 killing a yet-undetermined number of people, displacing millions and destroying property worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Last year, the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) confirmed 6,300 fatalities across the country. However some NGO’s estimate a much higher toll in Tacloban City, alone.
Nearly two years after the disaster, poor Haiyan survivors have yet to be permanently resettled and social services remain sorely lacking across the affected region. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sxt-mxQ4WyQ
“Climate change experts predict that the Philippines will always remain vulnerable to typhoons as destructive as Haiyan. Our aim is to help the people of Eastern Visayas prepare for this so-called ‘new normal’,” IAWRT Philippine chapter president Jola Diones-Mamangun said.
“A community station is the most viable solution to the lack of a sustained and dedicated mass communication platform to help the survivors to rise up from this disaster and prepare for the next,” Mamangun added.
Unlike existing commercial radio stations in Eastern Visayas, the community radio station will be non-profit and will be dedicated to helping marginalized sectors recover from Haiyan’s devastation.
IAWRT’s International Board recently approved a grant funded by Norad through FOKUS for the establishment of a mobile disaster response and rehabilitation community radio station in Haiyan-affected areas.
“Aside from being community-owned, this station shall have the capacity to be mobile. It means we can transport all its equipment to an area within the region which is being threatened or is suffering from another disaster and return to Tacloban City after,” Mamangun said.
The workshop in Tacloban is the first in a series of activities aimed to train its first group of broadcasters. It included discussions on the state of the Philippine mass media as well as the need for more community radio stations to serve women and other vulnerable sectors of society. Writing for radio, interviewing, reporting, the broadcast clock, and on-air presence were re included in the workshop.
Diones-Mamangun, IAWRT Philippine Chapter treasurer May Macapobre and member Marvie Matura conducted the workshop, along with Eastern Vista (a local non-profit media group) and Kodao Productions’ radio director, Raymund Villanueva .
“What makes this project groundbreaking is the fact that women are leading its establishment and women shall occupy executive positions in its management,” Macapobre said.
Women leaders from the peasant,* fisher folks, urban poor, academe and the church are being invited to form the radio station’s local board, while women candidates are being interviewed to be its first station manager. The workshop was attended by women and men from all those groups.
“There have been emergency radio stations put up after Haiyan, but they were dependent on the presence of foreign disaster response and humanitarian organizations. Now that their interventions are over, those stations stopped broadcasting. What we need is sustainability and that is only possible if the people own the station,” Macapobre said.
But climate change is real and the best way to prepare the people to meet the challenges of recovery and preparation for more disasters ahead is an education tool in the form of their community radio station, she explained. IAWRT Philippines shall conduct another workshop in late October and hopes to initiate the station’s test broadcast in December.
* In the Philippines, particularly among the democratic sectors, “peasant” is a badge of honor. It means belonging to the largest sector as well as the main force for social transformation.